The 6 principles of restorative practice
The Restorative Justice Council (RJC) have set out the following principles by which all services should practice by. At Well Springs we ensure our staff and volunteers are aware of and uphold the principles in their restorative practice and below it is outlined how we do this in our organisation.
1. Restoration – The primary aim of restorative practice is to address and repair harm.
2. Voluntarism – Participation in restorative processes is voluntary and based on informed choice.
3. Neutrality – Restorative processes are fair and unbiased towards participants.
4. Safety – Processes and practice aim to ensure the safety of all participants and create a safe space for the expression of feelings and views about harm that has been caused.
5. Accessibility – Restorative processes are non-discriminatory and available to all those affected by conflict and harm.
6. Respect – Restorative processes are respectful to the dignity of all participants and those affected by the harm caused.
(RJC July 2016)
So how do we apply them in practice?
Our aim is to ensure that any restorative interventions we do focusses on repairing harm that has been caused. We ensure that all participants have an opportunity to speak and are able to address all issues that they want to raise.
We cannot force anyone to take part in a restorative intervention and we are very mindful that participants are told from the outset that it is a voluntary process and given the correct information in relation to their responsibilities and ours in making this process work best for them. We ensure that RJ is explained fully so that participants are able to make an informed decision in their own time.
Our role is to remain in the middle we are not there to take sides in a restorative process. However we do advocate for victim led restorative justice as we understand the many forms that harm can take and the impact on the victims involved.
We believe that any person who has been harmed has a right to tell their story and the impact of that harm has had on them. We cannot prescribe how victims should respond to harm and understand that restorative justice is one avenue which allows free expression in a safe and non threatening environment. The process will be managed in order that there is no disadvantage, revicitmisation or discrimination to any participants.
We take safety and safeguarding very seriously in the restorative process. We ensure that we undertake full preparation of all participants including risk assessments prior to during and post contact. We also work in partnership with other agencies as necessary to mitigate any potential risks that might be present which supports us in keeping participants safe.
We aim to make sure our service is available to all regardless of race, gender, offending history, disability, or socioeconomic or political background. If for any reason Well sPrings are not able to work with a client, we will signpost to another more local service so enquirers are still able to access a restorative justice service.
We will set ground rules for any of our processes and respect is one of the main ones that we make clear from the start of any interactions. We understand that the experiences of participants may be very sensitive, still fresh at times or bring up certain emotions.
Our role as practitioners is to maintain professionalism and respect for all throughout the process and we ask all participants to kindly agree that they will abide by this.
If however we believe that any participants are not able to uphold this, we will do what is necessary to keep the process safe and this can at times may mean stopping the meeting or resorting to another form of restorative approach.